Scaled back Remembrance service upsets WGSS students

Teacher's strike means Remembrance Day will be observed over the school's P.A. system

Students at Walnut Grove Secondary are outraged that their Remembrance Day assembly has been cancelled.

Jessica Olszewski, a Grade 12 student at Walnut Grove, told The Times that despite having Remembrance Day assemblies in past years, her school is not organizing a major ceremony for students this year.

“Everyone was pretty mad. Honestly it was jaw-dropping,” she said. “It’s insanely disrespectful.”

Cari Andrews, also in Grade 12, says she is very disappointed.

“I think it’s extremely disrespectful. It’s important because these soldiers fought for us. It doesn’t make sense to me,” she said.

Instead of an assembly, the school is having the students read pieces over the P.A. system, followed by a moment of silence — something Olszewski believes is not good enough.

“It’s not anything sentimental at all,”  she said.

Given the current teachers’ strike, Walnut Grove principal Jim Darby believes holding this type of ceremony is the best alternative for the school’s situation this year.

“The idea of doing it this way came from one of our other members of the admin team here, and in their experience it had been done in other schools and it went over remarkably well. The impact was there,” he said.

“I didn’t want to put teachers in an awkward position to have to make a decision, particularly when it is Remembrance Day. We didn’t want a political piece crowding what is a solemn occasion.”

The students are also blaming the teachers’ strike for the cancellation, but the Langley Teachers Association says this is not the case.

“We have not issued any directive to cancel Remembrance Day, in fact that’s the one assembly that’s mandated through the School Act,”  said LTA president Gail Chaddock-Costello.

“Every school must hold some form of an assembly. It can be as simple as asking all students to bow their heads in a moment of silence while they read a prayer over the P.A. system. Exactly what is included in the Remembrance Day ceremony can be very simple to complex, but some sort of recognition must be given.”

Chaddock-Costello says it is up to the administrators to organize any type of assembly, not the teachers.

“Our directive to teachers is that they are not to organize them during job action but if they receive information that they are to bring students to the gymnasium or somewhere to participate at such and such a time, then they will do that and students will attend.”

Walnut Grove students have taken to making their own posters and creating a Power Point presentation to show other students the significance of Remembrance Day.

“Especially for the Grade 8 students it’s important to teach them the importance of this day,” Olszewski said.

Other secondary schools in Langley including D.W. Poppy, Aldergrove Community Secondary and Brookswood Secondary are holding their regular assemblies to be attended by the whole school.

Aldergrove has organized a multi disciplinary presentation and drama students at Brookswood are putting together a performance.

Langley Secondary School, on the other hand, has also opted to hold a minute of silence and will hand out poppies to students.

“Based on opinions of my colleagues, it will have most of the sentiment of an assembly,” Darby said. “It will be different.

“It is a change, and I’d say some of the sentimentality will be lost. But I think if students are quiet in their classrooms and are listening to what is being said, it will not be as good as being in the gym but it’s very close.”

Darby says Walnut Grove is planning on returning to regular Remembrance Day assemblies next year.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

VIDEO: Art in the time of COVID: how a Langley exhibition managed it

Holding the charitable event depended on which phase of restrictions were in effect

‘Each step is a prayer’: Ojibwe man will walk from Hope to Vancouver Island for Indigenous healing, reconciliation

James Taylor departs Sept. 20, returns to Saanich in five days for sacred fire

OUR VIEW: Fox fight continues

Thanks for keeping this courageous young man’s vision alive 40 years later

Lantern Park townhomes set to open this Sunday on Aldergrove/Abbotsford border

Developer Peter Reimer said more homes, including a mid-rise complex, are in store for the future

3 new deaths due to COVID-19 in B.C., 139 new cases

B.C. confirms 40 ‘historic cases,’ as well

Ferry riders say lower fares are what’s most needed to improve service

Provincial government announces findings of public engagement process

Air quality advisory ends for the Lower Mainland

It had been in effect since Sept. 8

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dies at 87

The court’s second female justice, died Friday at her home in Washington

Emaciated grizzly found dead on central B.C. coast as low salmon count sparks concern

Grizzly was found on Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw territory in Smith Inlet, 60K north of Port Hardy

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

VIDEO: B.C. to launch mouth-rinse COVID-19 test for kids

Test involves swishing and gargling saline in mouth and no deep-nasal swab

Young Canadians have curtailed vaping during pandemic, survey finds

The survey funded by Heart & Stroke also found the decrease in vaping frequency is most notable in British Columbia and Ontario

B.C. teachers file Labour Relations Board application over COVID-19 classroom concerns

The application comes as B.C.’s second week of the new school year comes to a close

Most Read